Lion Head/ Alpine Garden 6/27/09
Labrador Tea Rhododendron groenlandicum.
Lion Head/Alpine Garden
Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Lion Head Trail and Alpine Garden Trail
7.2 Miles 3150' Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy, Emma were among the multitudes
With the forecast not looking so good for a longer hike we thought we'd take our chances and head up to the Alpine Garden. We arrived just in time for an early afternoon thunderstorm so the summit was out of the question. On the ride up we made our usual pitstop at Chocorua Lake to snap a few pics. The lake was still as glass and there were huge puffy cumulus clouds hanging over the Sandwich Range to the north and west. You could feel the moisture already and we knew there would be good potential for a thunderstorm. Despite this we headed above treeline from Pinkham well prepared for rain and ready to beat feet at the first sound of thunder.
Just below Lion Head
The hike in was hot, muggy and buggy, but there was some air moving above treeline which made it more tolerable. Once we broke above treeline the trail up to Lion Head was lined with Labrador Tea. There were still a few Diapensia here and there and the Mountain Cranberry were in blossom. Near the top of Lion Head I saw my first Mountain Avens of the season in full bloom as well as Mountain Sandwort with just a few flowers actually open. Cloudy skies quickly turned to overcast as we arrived at the top of Lion Head. There was still quite a bit of ice/snow in Tucks.
Taking in the view
We headed out on the Alpine Garden Trail and for a few moments thought about going up to Nelson Crag and descending by that trail. We decided to sit down and eat and see what happened with the weather. I hadn't finished my fluffernutter when the first low rumble of thunder rolled up and over the ridge between Boot Spur and Washington. As we finished up lunch more rumbles came along and the clouds began to close in over the summit. The rumbles were coming quicker and louder so we packed up quick and headed back down to Lion Head. We began the descent as the first drops hit.
Mountain Avens Geum peckii.
I've been up there in similar circumstances and the storms have thrown some rain but usually the lightning and thunder peter out before making a direct strike on the summit. This seemed to be the case again today and we were thankful for that. We threw our raincoats on at the top of Lion Head and headed down in the rain. The rain was heavy then light then heavy again off and on throughout the hike back to Pinkham. Of course, we saw many ill-prepared hikers still heading for the summit. I'm sure they got a good soaking, but probably no permanent damage. I hope everyone made out alright. The worst thing to me is the wet, mossy rocks above treeline. They're like ice. Not good in wet sneakers and blue jeans.
Complete set of pics here:
Great pics and TR Kevin. Some really excellent flower shots. Looks like they came at a price though. The hot, muggy, buggy hike seems like it should have been enough without getting drenched to boot. Gotta love NE mountain weather. The last picture in the album was a perfect ending...
I second that great trip report and wonderful pics. We were up on the summit for the sunrise drive on Sunday. Well there was a sunrise just not there. We had planned on hiking over to the Alpine Garden but it was way to foggy. So thanks for the pics of the flowers they were great.
Wow - fabulous pictures! Did you use a digital camera?
Yes, I've been shooting with a Nikon 8800 since July '05. Welcome to the forum!